Birth Marks

Birth Marks

birth marks

A birthmark is a persistent visible mark located on your skin present from birth, or appearing shortly after. Birthmarks that have a pink color to them are caused by capillary hemangioma, a collection of small blood vessels.

Common locations for birthmarks typically include:

  • the upper lip
  • just above the nose
  • the eyelids
  • nape of the neck
  • mid-forehead
  • Shoulders
  • Back

These marks often fade over time, and are not considered harmful or require any type of diagnostic testing or future treatment. There are other infantile birthmarks that can be serious, such as rapidly involuting congenital hemangioma, non-involuting congenital hemangioma, and intramuscular hemangioma. Only about ten percent of infants contract this type of mark.

Symptoms of Birthmarks

The venous malformations or VMs (also called cavernous hemangiomas), is another type of common birthmark. These marks are not symptomatic and do not require medical attention. Congenital birthmarks known as liver hemangiomas and bone hemangiomas are also common venous malformations. Most birthmarks are flat and have a brown color to them, varying in shape and size. Some birthmarks can be raised above the skin.

Arterovenous malformations can be a more serious types of birthmark that may require medical attention. These marks form when veins and arteries form an abnormal connection at the point where arterial blood is shunted to the veins. These marks are present at birth, but become more visible as the person with the birthmark ages. Many times this is caused by some type of stimuli such as trauma, puberty, pregnancy, etc. These are among the few types of birthmarks that may require surgery.

Birthmark Treatment

There is normally no treatment required for common birthmarks. Birthmarks are sometimes removed or lightened for cosmetic reasons, but such procedures are rarely covered by health insurance.

birth marks

Serious birthmarks can occur in the same places as common birthmarks, however tend to grow quite large and vary in color. Once diagnosed patients may receive Sclerothreapy for small or minor birthmarks like some lymphatic malformations.

Sclerotherapy is an injection of a sclerosing substance, normally alcohol, directly into the skin. This is normally used for slow-flow vascular anomalies, VM and lymphatic malformation. Microcytic lymphatic malformations can usually only be treated with surgery radiofrequency ablation, which is used in select cases.

Emboloization is the main treatment used for fast-flow anomalies or vascular birth marks, such as AVMs, Arterovenous fistula, and hemangiomas. This procedure consists of normal vessels being closed off with substances like alcohol, coil, or glue. Call a doctor if you have any doubts as to whether your birthmark is one of the harmless common varieties, or a more serious skin condition.

Most flat, tan, pink or brown birthmarks that are painless and not growing in size are benign. There is no known way to prevent getting a birthmark, it is simply a congenital anomaly. Birthmarks do come in all shapes and sizes and treatment or removal is only necessary for large, serious marks.

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